Mizrahi Bank controlling shareholder Moshe Wertheim has recently told CEO Victor Medina he no longer feels able to trust him. The Wertheim Feinberg group believes Medina has taken the side of the Ofer group in the controversy regarding the appointment of a chairman for the bank. The group also feels Medina's performance is lacking.
The substantial shareholders in Mizrahi Bank, the Ofer family (26%) and the Wertheim-Feinberg group (26%) have considered replacing Medina in the past, and approached several potential candidates off the record. The Ofer family spoke to the CEO of one of the banks in Israel, while the Wertheim-Feinberg group approached three other candidates.
The issue of replacing the CEO came up again after the two controlling groups yesterday agreed, after months of disagreement that nearly severed their connection, to appoint Idan Ofer chairman of the bank in lieu of Avi Wertheim, who has held the position since 1998. The two sides had agreed Ofer's appointment was viable months ago, but for some reason his candidacy was removed.
Some of the controlling shareholders seem to think the bank is far from having reached its full business potential. On the one hand, there is satisfaction with its internal organization, personnel management and financial management, but there is also disappointment the bank did not reach its retail/marketing goals, meaning in fact it did not co-operate with its subsidiary, Tefahot Mortgage Bank.
The Wertheim-Feinberg group was hoping to replace the CEO at the same time it appointed its chairman, but the Ofer family objected. The controlling shareholders delayed the discussions and searches for a new CEO after negotiations with Citibank did not culminate in a deal. Now that a new chair has been appointed, subject to approval by Banks Commissioner Yitzhak Tal, and sale of control of the bank is no longer on the agenda, the shareholders are to decide on Medina's continued employment as CEO.
Spokesperson for the Ofer family denied the news and said the Ofer-Wertheim group supports the bank's CEO and the management.
The Wertheim-Feinberg group and Victor Medina were unavailable for comment.